Canada's Chagall are what I would consider to be a mixture of modern groove and death metal, along with some slightly progressive quirks here and there. Metal Archives just refers to them as “groove metal” and that I believe fits as well. Locust Spitter is their first recording since the self-titled EP (2014) and it comes off as most debuts do – the right idea, with a little bit of rough edges that need to be smoothened out. The very first thing that the listener will notice about Chagall is that they are kind of one-sided, especially as far as the vocal skills of Chris Fothergill are concerned. The guy is about as one dimensional as Devildriver's Dez Fafara, which amounts Chagall to a slightly more intricate Lamb Of God albeit with a rather unremarkable frontman. As for the rest of the band, I've noticed that maybe the sound is bit too clean as well, which doesn't really give me any bite. I'm not really hearing what sounds like an act that is playing at one-hundred percent in the studio and I'd expect these guys to deliver a little bit more on the stage perhaps. Also, the drums are too light in the mix as well as the guitars, which all sound very safe.
The Lamb Of God influence is pretty easy to see, but I'm just not feeling the same bite. The very first time I listened to this record while sitting in the hospital, I noticed that there wasn't much about it that came out to me as far as what I expect from a strong groove record. I think one of the biggest problems is that many of Randy Blythe's vocal aesthetics are being completely emulated, which doesn't give me the sound of any new band with their own style – it just sounds like an act trying to play around it's record collection, which is relatively acceptable for most debuts. When you step away from the record, it sounds heavily encapsulated in a kind of box. That isn't to say that nice leads do not appear on the disc, as well as some slightly more progressive elements (which you certainly wouldn't get from Lamb Of God) but aside from certain sections, the drums just don't really kick all that much and the guitars seem kind of constricted as well as the vocals. It feels like a box of fire. When you pick it up, it'll burn your hand. But when you leave it there lying on the ground, no one will even notice it. I can't say that these four guys don't have talent, because you can see the progressive elements melding quite well with the death/groove. It just sounds like something that will piece together better overtime. The record certainly has it's kicking moments, but Burn The Priest's debut and the first few Lamb Of God records had a lot more venom.
What needs to happen here is less restraint and I don't know how that's going to happen. I don't want to hear concrete, guys. I want to hear hard-hitting metal that doesn't all bleed into one performance. I don't feel that groove fans will be ultimately upset with this one, but definitely give it a listen on the Bandcamp before you decide to purchase it. It's a “Name Your Own Price” release, so if you liked what you heard, throw them a few bucks. I'm sure it would help. In any case, this one doesn't really catch me in the way that other groove discs have, but I'm definitely willing to hear more from them in the future. Let's see how this evolves.
(9 Tracks, 41:00)